The demonetization drive is the first step toward a cashless and hence a corruption free and terrorism free economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly told the nation.

Yet a cursory look at the declaration of assets and liabilities of Modi’s ministers show that neither the Prime Minister nor other ministers of his government displayed a particularly keen interest in cashless transactions. They continued to hold on to large piles of cash even two weeks after demonetization was announced.

The Code of Conduct for Ministers stipulates that they must file details of their assets and liabilities with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) annually.

The report, updated on November 22 and available at the website of PMO, does not explain why the ministers had so much liquid cash at hand and from where they got so much cash.

The report, however, shows that of the 78 currently serving ministers, as many as 38 did not declare the amount of cash they had in hand. They include even high profile Ministers such as Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.

The full report is available at: http://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/assets-and-liabilities-of-the-union-council-of-ministers-2015-2016/updated on 22/11/2016

According to the report, Finance minister Arun Jaitley had the largest amount of cash in hand – Rs 65,29,400 and he is way ahead of others.

Compared to Jaitley, the cash that the Prime Minister himself had till November 22 was insignificant. But he was definitely not cashless and had Rs 89,700 in cash.

One who came closest to Jaitley in terms of holding cash was minister of state Shripad Esso Naik. He had a cash of Rs 22,12,683.  Minister of state Rao Inderjit Singh had Rs 9,75,048 in cash.

Interestingly, minister Prakash Javadekar was apparently “cashless” till November 22. Though he had a bank balance of Rs 11,91,126, the coloumn recording his cash at hand showed an unexplained question mark “?” Chaudhary Birender Singh also shows a “?” in his cash at hand coloumn, though he had a bank balance of about Rs one crore.

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